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The Best Time to Workout When Working the Night Shift

Timing Workouts When Working Nights

Eating well and getting sufficient sleep are all components of wellness as someone that works the night shift. Just as important as sleep and nutrition is physical activity in the form of exercise. So, if night shift workers sleep in the daytime and work at night, when can they possibly get in a workout?

Honestly, when the workout happens really depends on the individual. Some find that working out before the shift is best while other are more effective getting in their workout post night shift.

Before The Shift

There are several advantages to exercise, many of which are very well known. Exercise fights stress and anxiety, improves your endurance, concentration and focus and boosts your energy and mood. Given these benefits, there are ways to get in a workout before you head to work, spend 30 minutes performing some form of cardiovascular activity such as swimming, bike riding, aerobics or playing a sport. If the weather and distance from work permits, ride your bike to work or take the stairs. You may notice improved alertness while on the job.

During The Shift

During the shift, it is possible to get in exercise as well. Often opportunities for exercise are available if we are wiling to be creative. Stand at the desk instead of sitting, sneak in some lunges, calf raises and squats. You would be surprised at how many you can fit in over the course of a night shift. 

  1. Walk around your department. This is especially helpful for staying awake at those drowsy times in the morning like 3 or 4am. 
  2. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. While on the stairs, the location is prime for exercises like calf raises, lunges, or stair hops (skipping stairs two at a time).
  3. Wallsits are true thigh, buttock and calf burners. There are no paucity of walls to use and the exercise can be intensified by adding a leg raise or holding some books for weights. This a great move to do as part of a at work challenge ;).
  4. Pushups on the wall or at the desk are veery effective again due to the cumulative effect
  5. Another very portable exercise is the tricep dip, which can be done with a chair or at the desk

After Work

Everyone’s response to exercise is different. For some people, exercise increases their energy while for others it helps put them to sleep. If your shift ends around 6 a.m. or 7 a.m., wait until everyone is at school or at work before going to sleep. 

Spend some time working out or performing light stretches or yoga to help ease stress and tension from your work day then, once the house is quiet, head to bed.

The Verdict

The best time of day to workout for night-shift workers is largely dependent on the preference of the individual. Spend one week working out before, during and after your shift and see which one is the best fit for you. No matter which time of day you choose, treat exercise as if it’s an important appointment you cannot miss. Team up with a fellow late-night coworker to keep you motivated. In addition to exercise, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and get plenty of sleep.

Personally, I have worked out before and after my night shifts. I prefer working out post shift in order to get my workout in before going to sleep. On those days when I miss the mark and end up crashing out in bed, then I will do a pre shift workout.

Be strong. Be brave. Unleash your greatness!

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Charmaine Gregory

I am a nocturnist Emergency Physician, wife, mom to three vivacious cherubs as well as a greatness and virtual fitness coach. I help busy women like myself reclaim their fitness and wellness mojo and unleash their greatness! Watch my story and get a complimentary health assessment here: My Story If you are like me and have picky eaters in your fold, join my Facebook group, Picky Eaters Strong Mom here: Picky Eater Strong Mom Facebook Group

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